I had the privilege of volunteering at the Headspace Hangar that Liverpool Mental Health Consortium brought to this year’s Africa Oyé Festival in Sefton Park. A quiet, safe space for festival goers to chill out providing an oasis of calm for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the excitement and stress such events can cause.
The Headspace Hangar was actually a giant marquee situated in the Wellbeing Zone of the Oyé village. Adorned with bunting and having bright striped deck chairs outside, it had a sunny, colourful seaside feel about it in what was mostly an overcast weekend.
Inside, it was a cosy and welcoming retreat with comfy bean bags to relax on and a variety of books to read. A number of free activities had also been laid on, including massage, reiki, crafting and henna tattoos.
In addition to the activities visitors were asked to write about their thoughts on whiteboards and were photographed with same. There were also free wrist bands, coasters and info about LMHC. Upon leaving visitors were politely requested “To Button It.” Not as rude as it may sound, but a fun way of getting feedback from participants. There were 4 boxes, one with the happy face emoji, one with the neutral face emoji, one with the sad face emoji and lastly a box containing an assortment of buttons. The idea was to choose a button and post it in the relevant box reflecting your emotion. Happily, by the end of the day, the box with the happy face had the most buttons. A job well done! Bizarrely, a button found its way into the sad box. Proving the old adage, you can’t win them all and maybe someone was just having one of those bad days we all know so well.
All the events proved very popular with all age groups. It was also an opportunity to have a natter with folk and make new friends. Many opened up about their own mental health, sharing their stories and personal journeys, as a deep sense of connection was made and kindred spirits were recognised. It was heartening to hear how appreciative people were to have the Hangar to take refuge in, to see them enjoying the activities on offer and humbling when they expressed their gratitude for the work that LMHC are doing for mental health awareness. Many, even in these hard times caused by Austerity, wanted to make a financial contribution and urged the Consortium to charge the next time as they would be willing to pay. However this is not the message that LMHC want to send out as they reach out to people living with mental health problems and they will continue to host these events free of charge.
I, for one, am pleased that this will not be the last time the Headspace Hangar makes an appearance. It is set to make a reappearance at Liverpool Pride in July. As they say, watch this space! http://www.liverpoolmentalhealth.org/
(Photos courtesy of Liverpool Mental Health Consortium)